After mob lynching in the name of cow slaughter, it is rumours of child lifting that are fueling similar incidents in Uttar Pradesh, where over 20 such cases reported during the past three days.
In the latest incident in Sambhal, a man suspected of being a child lifter, was thrashed to death by a mob on Tuesday.
According to reports, two brothers had taken their nephew to a doctor for treatment when a mob, suspecting them to be childlifters, caught hold of them. Both were dragged to a field, where they were ruthlessly beaten.
On getting the information, police rushed to the spot and rescued the brothers, one of whom was declared dead on arrival at the hospital. Five persons were arrested for assaulting the duo.
Four other incidents came to light in Shamli, Bulandshahr and Hapur on Tuesday.
Five women were thrashed by a mob while they were selling ropes suspecting them to be child-lifters in Shamli district. They were rescued by the police.
Similarly, in Bulandshahr, a mentally challenged man was beaten up by a mob on the same suspicion. In Hapur, a woman had to face the mob’s wrath after being mistaken for a child lifter.
In Bareilly, on Monday, a mentally retarded man was punched, kicked and slapped for over an hour just because he had snatched a Rs 10 note from the hands of a child in the market place as he was hungry for days. Even the cops, who tried to intervene, were beaten up and chased away by the angry mob.
Additional forces had to be called in to control the situation and the victim has been hospitalised.
Earlier in Lakhimpur Kheri last week, three cops of Haryana police, in plain clothes, were suddenly surrounded by a mob as they were mistaken for being child-lifters. They were later rescued by the local police.
Senior police officials attribute these incidents to rumours being spread through the social media.
In some districts where such incidents have taken place, authorities are making public announcements to assure people of the presence of police all the time and that no child lifting gang was active in the area.
I-G Meerut zone, Alok Singh has even issued an advisory against rumour-mongering over child lifting that led to mob violence in various districts. The police advisory said that strict action would be taken against those found indulging in violence. They would be identified from the videos of violence circulating on the social media and CCTV footage.
DGO OP Singh said the police had increased patrolling to avert such incidents and a strict vigil was also being maintained on the social media to check rumours that lead to mob lynching. “We are also strict about identifying persons involved in such incidents and punitive action will be taken against them,” he said.